Queensland families desperate for relief are sourcing their medical cannabis from the black market until it becomes legal for qualified patients in March.
Advocates and parents of children with debilitating conditions in Queensland are urging the Australian authority to allow for early legal access to medical cannabis, Australia’s ABC News reports.
The State Government announced in October that the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016 allows for Queensland patients of any age to be prescribed medicinal cannabis. Under the new law, Queensland GP’s will be able to prescribe cannabis for patients starting in March, but advocates are arguing that many patients desperately rely on the cannabis and that the two-and-a-half month wait could cost lives.
One parent unwilling to wait until March, Bribie Island’s Katrina Spraggon, is knowingly breaking the law to give her eight-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, cannabis from the black market. Kaitlyn suffers from a life-threatening form of epilepsy. The cannabis, Spraggon says, has dramatically reduced the number and severity of her daughter’s seizures.
“If I run out of [marijuana oil], it’s obvious [Kaitlyn] will die because her seizure won’t stop until it touches her gum,” Spraggon said in an interview Sunshine Coast Daily.
“Please give us amnesty, not just for me but for millions of people,” Spraggon said to ABC News. “There’s that many cannabis community patients and they’re too scared to come forward in case they get prosecuted. It’s a joke. If everyone came forward and actually said what they’re on, this would be legalized. I’m over it.”
Linda Bonaccorsi of Queensland is illegally giving her 14-year-old daughter, Becky, cannabis oil. MRI’s have shown her daughter Becky’s tumor has changed from a hard lump to a jelly-like substance since introducing cannabis oil, and Bonaccorsi isn’t willing to take her daughter off the substance, despite the law.
“A few months ago she was not walking, she couldn’t feed herself,” said Bonaccorsi. “She could do nothing but look at her now, she’s so strong and the oil is 100 percent I recon. The only side-effect Becky gets is sometimes she gets tired.”
Bonaccorsi told ABC News that while she’s uncomfortable breaking the law, she’s willing to do what’s best for her daughter despite the consequences. “I don’t have a choice, it scares me that I have to do this,” she said.
More than 200 Australians had been sourcing their cannabis from Adelaid producer Jenny Hallam, who distributed marijuana oils to families for free until her home was raided by South Australian police earlier this month. The cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes was legalized by the Federal Government last February, but cannabis in Queensland remains classified as a Schedule 2 drug and supplying it carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.
Queensland advocate Rebecca Bridson is another cannabis supplier risking prosecution to help source cannabis to help those suffering.
“They can arrest me and they can charge me,” Bridson told ABC News. “That’s part and parcel of the risk we take, but what harm am I doing. Where’s my victim?”
Buderim MP Steve Dickson has called for an amnesty for families currently using cannabis until the new state legislation takes effect in March.
“We know there is great, progressive legislation but the issue here is timely,” Dickson said, according to Sunshine Coast Daily. “We’ve gone through the process, we’ve done everything appropriately, but it gets down to life and death. Our job as politicians is to care for the people we represent, and I think it’s high bloody time we started doing that again.”
The Prime Minister has yet to respond to the calls for compassion publicly. The Queensland Premier’s office, however, has said there was no amnesty or compassion use scheme in place.